Raise your hand if you were doing nothing before you decided to learn copywriting and hang out your freelance shingle?
Hmmm… I don’t see many raised hands.
Most of us were already leading busy lives when we decided to answer the call and become a freelance copywriter.
Some of us were busy juggling multiple responsibilities.
When I began my copywriting journey, I was working a full-time global management job, raising three boys, and doing a ton of volunteering.
And yet, I did still find time to learn copywriting and open my business.
You may think you’re just too busy to focus on your business… I can (almost) guarantee that’s not true.
Follow these steps and you may be surprised at just how much time you do have to devote to your business.
Step 1: Get clear on your “WHY”
Why do you want to become a copywriter? What is the benefit you’ll derive from it? Is it a higher income? Is it freedom from worry about layoffs? Is it income in retirement? Is it a love of writing and/or a dislike of your current career?
You’ll want to get really clear on your WHY as you head into Step 2. Maybe even create a poster you can tape up around your desk, so you see it daily.
Step 2: Find out where you’re wasting time… and stop
The most effective tool I used to do this was a book called The Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballantyne. Craig helps you identify what you’re doing that moves you forward and what you’re doing that may be holding you back.
You can get the book and follow Craig’s advice, or you can just keep a log of your daily activities for a couple of weeks.
What times of day do you find yourself more vulnerable to sliding into social media and losing yourself? Do you watch TV shows you like but could do without?
As you go through your log of activities… hold them up next to your WHY from Step 1. Is it more important to you to watch that rerun of How I Met Your Mother or to deliver on that WHY?
After going through your entire week and finding these kinds of “opportunities,” move on to Step 3…
Step 3: Add up the overall weekly free time you now have
Your schedule is likely not the same every week. But you’ll have an average number of hours each week available to you for copywriting.
One caveat: don’t try to schedule every minute of every day: that all-success plan is bound to fail. Spectacularly.
Let’s say you observe that you have 20 hours a week of free time: that is, between downtime you may have already had and the items you’ve identified as less important than your WHY, you’ve got 20 hours.
Make sure you’ve got everything you do need in your schedule before allocating that time to copywriting.
Do you have a workout schedule in there? Shopping and healthy cooking in there? Time to spend with family and friends? Enough rest/sleep time?
What’s left over? Ten hours a week? Five hours?
Whatever that amount of time is, now you’ll want to…
Step 4: Replace the old time-wasting activities with new copywriting-focused ones
Let’s say you’ve found ten hours each week you could devote to building your new copy business.
You’ve already told yourself that spending those hours on your business is more important than whatever you were doing before.
Once you’ve got that free time, you don’t want to lose it to other unconscious activities… so schedule those times right into your calendar immediately.
And not just something vague like “work on copywriting business.” One trick to maximizing your time and to ensure you follow through on your intent: prepare for your time spent on your business just as if you were preparing for a meeting at work.
That way, you get to use that whole hour effectively.
If your business goals this month are to mail to five potential clients a week and to add white papers to your services, you’ll want to look at your weekly free times, divide that time between the two goals, and then schedule specific activities for each block of time.
There, you’ve made progress on your copy skills and your business, and because you had the work scheduled, and you weren’t scrambling at the end of a long workday to find the energy to work on your business.
Step 5: Adjust over time
When you’re just starting out, especially if you’re completely switching careers, you’ll find what you need to focus on shifts over time.
At first, you need copy skills. You won’t get very far as a freelance copywriter without them.
But once you’ve got a few of those under your belt, though you will (and should) continue to learn, you’ll need to set up your business too. What’s your niche? Your marketing message? Your ideal client? What marketing methods will you use to find clients? What will you include when you set up a website? What can you include about your copy business on your LinkedIn profile? Will you leverage social media? Which platforms?
So… you’re still busy, but now instead of just finding time for learning copywriting, you’re adding business work like building a website, designing your marketing plan, and writing blogs (if that’s part of your plan), etc.
And once you set those up, you’ll need to keep them updated, so make sure you put time on your calendar periodically to refresh your website, your LinkedIn profile, post on social media, and do any other regular activities in your plan.
Finally, if that marketing is successful, you’ll add a fourth activity to your weekly copywriting time: working for clients!
Even if all you can free up initially are two or three hours a week, you’ll be making some progress on your business. And some progress is better than no progress.